Paul Tuns

In 2019, a Nova Scotia woman sought an injunction to stop all abortions in Canada, the funding of abortions, and $500 million in punitive damages, and legal protection from discrimination for those who take part in pro-life activities. She argues that Canada is illegally killing preborn babies by permitting abortion. Last month, Federal Court of Appeal Justice J.D. Denis Pelletier dismissed the case.

Bonnie Brauer represented herself in suing the federal government. In her statement of claim she alleged the government “was engaged in Mass Genocide by allowing mothers and abortion doctors to abort their unborn babies.” In her suit, she claimed abortions violate Canada’s Charter of Rights that guarantees the right to life, liberty and security of the person, as well as the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

Bauer also noted that “any dissent” against abortion was stamped out by the state, that pro-life demonstrations were restricted by bubble zones, and organizations were denied Summer Jobs Program funding through the attestation rule the Trudeau government implemented in 2019.

The federal government responded that her claim was scandalous and vexatious, failing to disclose a reasonable cause of action, and asked the prothonotary — a junior judicial official that often manages early cases, mediation and motions — to dismiss the case. Federal lawyers said her allegations were “obscure and confused.”

In a June 2020 decision, the prothonotary agreed with the federal government, saying Brauer’s “bare assertions and conclusory statements” failed to set out facts necessary for a court action, that there was no argument that a Charter breach had been made, nor any evidence that Brauer had suffered any damages due to Canada’s abortion permissibility.

Brauer appealed the decision, arguing her claim appeared incomplete because abortion information is hidden from the public.

In August 2020, Justice William Pentney dismissed her appeal, saying she merely re-stated her position with “assertions” that were not “backed up with reference to specifics.” He ordered Brauer to pay the government’s legal costs.

Brauer once again appealed, to the to the Federal Court of Appeal.

Justice Pelletier wrote in his decision released last month, “Her notice of appeal does not identify specific errors in the Federal Court’s decision, but does respond to its findings by claiming that her cause of action is to protect lives and that it is immoral to consider her claims scandalous or vexatious.”

Pelletier wrote: “Ms. Brauer seeks to advance a moral objective and insists that the legal system is bound to permit her to do so. Ms. Brauer has the right to seek to advance her objective but if she wishes to use the courts to do so, she must comply with the Rules and the applicable substantive law.”

He ordered Brauer to pay the government $1,000 in court costs.

Gwen Landolt, a lawyer and vice president of REAL Women, wrote in the Epoch Times, that “The case was dismissed … not on its merits,” but “Rather, it was due to Brauer’s failure to follow court rules with respect to the facts around her allegations and with respect to her ‘standing.” Landolt explained, Brauer, “failed to establish that the abortion law had caused her injury and loss — therefore, she had no personal substantial legal interest in the case.”

Landolt said, “Brauer v. Canada reinforces a number of important lessons that the pro-life movement needs to bear in mind as it moves forward.” She called the suit “a timely reminder that abortion remains unregulated in Canada, despite the fact that such regulation is entirely within the competence of the legislature.” Landolt said in R. v. Morgentaler (1988), the Supreme Court “did not state that the Charter provided a woman with an absolute right to abortion.” She also argued that the Brauer case “is reinforcement of the fact that abortion is primarily a political issue, not a legal issue,” even if “It’s undeniable that there are legal issues and consequences associated with abortion.” Landolt says that abortion “is the defining moral question of our age.”

Landolt said that the abortion lobby does not want abortion discussed in the public square and therefore in one important way, “Brauer’s ‘loss’ is actually a win, because rather than not discussing abortion, once again it is a front-page story.”

The case was largely unnoticed by the pro-life movement until the case’s dismissal made the front page of the National Post on Oct. 13.